From the Rails 6 (The Final One)

Well folks, I’m on my way to San Francisco. That means from here on out, I’ll be located in California until the trip has come to an end. On a similar note, this is actually the final train ride of my journey, as I’m hopping a plane to LA and then another back to Cleveland. Am I nervous about it all? Of course. Am I just as equally excited? Absolutely. But that brings me to what I wanted to write about today, as I stare off into the west coast’s endless tree-covered hills and snow-capped mountaintops.

When I first embarked on #TGAA, I scrambled to gain as many online followers as I could. I was so sure that I needed to amass as many likes, retweets, links and mentions as possible. What I’ve since learned is that I had the whole thing backwards. This project isn’t about any of that. Sure, I utilize the Internet to tell the project's story and spread the word about what’s going on. But at its core, #TGAA is about connecting people in the real world; showing people what’s possible; and proving there are opportunities out there you may have never thought to consider—places you never thought to go.

The gravity of this project is not lost on me and neither is my unique position to help others. I may not broadcast all of the things we’ve done along the way, but my hope is that there are now plenty of people out there who can sing their own personal praises for the project. That’s because, whenever I find a line I can help connect, I jump on the opportunity to do so. And I truly believe these are the things that help measure the overall success of our project. I’ve connected musicians with labels, job hunters with headhunters, agencies with apps, writers with artists and individuals with publications. These real world connections are an element that has grown out of #TGAA over time and that—to me—is magical.

While I do my best to open a window into the ever-changing world I’m currently living in, there are limits to what I write about. That’s because the last thing I want to do is cheapen the interactions I have with people along the way. I’ve had drinks with executives, lunches with entire creative teams and picked the brains of musicians, authors and artists alike. Yet, aside from adding their names to the ‘Great People’ page, I’ve elected not to mention many of them in the blog. I feel the anonymity that comes with knowing our interaction is off-the-record helps people relax and be themselves. In turn, this creates more meaningful conversations. Plus, the last thing I want is for someone to think I’m only talking to him or her, just so I have content for the blog.

Of course, the information I gather does make it to everyone in many other ways—even if it’s not attributed to anyone in particular. Every piece of advice—every tidbit of information—has been shared in one form or another. Whether it’s the topic of a blog, through an on-campus Q&A, a one-on-one chat with a junior creative or in response to an inquisitive email, I strive to share everything I learn on our journey. So, trust me when I say, I’m not hoarding any of this newfound knowledge. Most of it is already out there. And as always, if there’s anything you want to know, just ask. This project has always been an open book and that’s what it will always be.


From the Rails #2

Greetings from New Orleans!

I just made it to my hotel room and I’m so happy I can finally stretch my legs a bit. I love riding the rails, but a 16+ hour train ride can certainly begin to wear on you. I know I’m only in town for the evening, but I can already tell tonight is going to be nothing short of magical. After hitting the hotel gym for a little bit, I plan on visiting Bourbon Street to see what kind of trouble I can get into there. I don’t know much about this city, but I do know they have great food and I’m pretty sure you can drink in the street, which all sounds good to me. I even learned you can rent your own four-piece jazz band here, so I might have to look into that too. After all, Hannibal Buress made it sound pretty fun.

I honestly didn’t have much planned beforehand, but while I was still on the train, one of the Amtrak attendants gave me a list of some music venues I need to check out. She told me that a number of the Jazz Fest performers tend to pop in and do secret shows after the festival closes for the day. So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I happen upon a Boz Scaggs or Eric Clapton show. As for tomorrow, I plan on getting an early start to the day, so I can grab some authentic Louisiana brunch, before I hop on another train for 8 more hours of travel.

I know a lot of people will be asking if the endless train rides were worth it, just to visit a new city for one night. I guess things like this are only worth it if you make them. Sure, I could stay in my hotel room all evening and relax. But, I made the journey here and I plan on getting the most out of it. Wish me luck and I’ll see you in Memphis.